How Credit Affects Mortgages

Credit is tied to most big financial decisions you will make in your life. From things as little as opening up a store card at the mall to buying your first home, your credit score is going to play a factor.

When it comes to mortgages, lenders take your credit score, particularly your FICO score, into consideration in determining the interest rate that you will likely be stuck with for years.

How is your credit score determined and what can you do to use it to get a better rate on your mortgage? We’ll cover all of that and more in this article.

Deciphering credit scores

Most major lenders assign your credit score based on the information provided by three national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These companies report your credit history to FICO, who give you a score from 300 to 850 (850 being the best your score can get).

When applying for a mortgage (or attempting to be pre-approved for a home loan), the lender you choose will weight several aspects to determine if they will lend money to you and under what terms they will lend you the money. Among these are your employment status, current salary, your savings and assets, and your credit score.

Lenders use this data to attempt to determine how likely you are to pay off your debt. To be considered a “safe” person to lend money to it will require a combination of things, including good credit.

What is good credit? Credit scores are based on five components:

  • 35%: your payment history
  • 30%: your debt amount
  • 15%: length of your credit history
  • 10%: types of credit you have used
  • 10%: recent credit inquiries (such as taking out new loans or opening new credit cards)

As you can see, paying your bills and loans on time each month is the key factor in determining your credit score. Also important, however, is keeping your total amount of debt low.

Most aspects of your credit score are in your control. Only 10% of your score is determined by the length of your credit history (i.e., when you opened your first card or took out your first loan).

To build your credit score, you’ll need to focus on lowering your balances, making on-time payments, and giving yourself time to diversify your credit.

What does this mean for taking out mortgages?

A higher credit score will get you a lower interest rate. By the time you pay off your mortgage, just a hundred points on your credit score could save you thousands on your mortgage, and that’s not including the money you might save by getting lower interest rates on other loans as well.

If you would like to buy a home within the next few years, take this time to focus on building your credit score:

  • If you have high balances, do your best to lower them
  • If you have a tendency to miss payments, set recurring reminders in your phone to make sure you pay on time
  • If you don’t have diverse credit, it could be a good time to take out a loan or open your first credit card

When it comes time to apply for a mortgage, you’ll thank yourself for focusing more on your credit score.

Tips For Saving Money and Shopping More Healthfully

Everyone knows it’s a bad idea to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, but we all do it occasionally!

Going to the supermarket on an empty stomach not only causes you to spend more, but it weakens your resolve to avoid foods with empty calories and unhealthy ingredients. When hunger pangs undermine your self discipline, you may also be more likely to buy a jumbo bag of potato chips, pick up a block of cheese and some crackers along the way, and maybe order a pound of Genoa salami while at the deli counter.

Then, of course, there are all those chocolatey temptations at the checkout counter — peanut butter cups, for example! Maybe you’re stronger willed than that, but I know plenty of people who are not!

Although I haven’t read any scientific studies on the topic, I’d make an educated guess that when you go grocery shopping hungry, there’s a tendency to buy more food than you ordinarily would — probably to compensate for your hunger. So perhaps having a healthy snack first or going grocery shopping after breakfast or lunch would be a good strategy for avoiding the pitfalls of food shopping on an empty stomach.

Here are a few more ideas for saving money and limiting junk food purchases:

  • Create a grocery list and stick to it! That’s often easier said than done, but it can make a big difference in the quantity and quality of food you buy. Impulse purchases may provide immediate gratification, but they can wreak havoc on your waistline and your budget.
  • Avoid bringing your children grocery shopping, whenever possible. When childcare is not available, there’s no way around it. However, with kids in tow, expect to be buying “a few” additional items that you hadn’t planned on. Try as we might to resist the requests, suggestions, and demands our kids make at the grocery store, it’s not unusual for a parent’s resolve to weaken — especially if they happen to be tired or stressed out. A lot depends on the age of your children, how persistent they are, and whether they’re hungry when you’re out food shopping. Many factors come into play!
  • Using coupons and taking advantage of discounts, special promotions, and two-for-one sales can noticeably reduce your grocery bill and, consequently, leave more money in your wallet. It may require that you pore over weekly newspaper inserts, clip coupons, and keep them organized, but getting in that habit can help reduce the strain on your household budget. It also pays to shop at supermarkets that offer double coupons. They’re often the ones that are the most competitive and willing to help you stretch your dollar.

So if you’ve been noticing more junk food appearing in your kitchen cabinets, and your grocery bill seems to be taking on a life of its own, consider some of these economical ideas to help reign things in.

How To Add Value To Your Home With A Deck

Many people consider building some type of outdoor space to add to their home. There’s nothing better than being able to enjoy nature right from the comfort of your own home. The outdoors become an extension of your home when you build these spaces. A deck is one of the simplest ways that you can add something to the house and be able to make use of outdoor spaces at the same time. The important thing to know is that a deck is an investment. Before you decide to add a deck to your home, you’ll need a budget in place as you don’t want any home improvement project to become financially overwhelming. With that budget, keep the returns you could make along the way in mind

Curb Appeal

Really, adding a deck to a home is about buyer appeal. It probably goes without saying that a deck is something that can add a lot to a home and add to the overall value of your home in the case that you are looking to sell it in the near future. The best improvements that you can make to a home are in fact those that add value. It’s estimated that the return you’ll get on building a deck is about 65-90%. The bottom line is that the investment of building a deck does add to both the monetary value and the pleasure of a owning home.    

Consider The Area You Live In

Obviously the region or state that you live in has a big impact on just how much value a deck can add to a home. Especially in nicer climates, a deck will be great for just about any neighborhood. In regards to area, you should also think of the construction costs. Some areas will be more expensive than others to build in, but the overall investment could be worth it for the region.

How Will You Build It

The amount of return that you get from a deck depends upon how you build it. If you’re a DIY homeowner, you’ll get the most return by far. If you hire a contractor, the return will be less, but you may avoid hiccups in the building of the deck itself. The more complicated you make the deck, the more it will cost. These extras don’t necessarily mean that you’ll get as much of a return as you’d expect. 

Focus On Your Needs

No matter what you decide, building a deck has to match your own personal preferences. You want to make the most use out of your new space with you and your family. Build a deck that works for you. Even if your goal is to add value to your home, you don’t want to undertake a project that you don’t love in the end. Keep all of this in mind when you build your deck, or any other outdoor space in your home and you’ll be able to enjoy your home in bliss.              

Six Transformation Ideas for Your Spare Room

The spare room. How is it that they always seem to be a catchall for random household items and never quite turn into a useable room? If you’re tired of walking by your spare room and it’s dismal mish-mash state keep reading for tips to turn it into a room you’ll be excited to use.

Art studio. Whether you were born with a paintbrush in hand, haven’t touched one since high school or have always wanted to learn how an art studio can bring creativity into your life and home. Invest in an easel and a paint set to get started. But be sure to cover the floors for easy clean up! Unless that is you want to go for the splattered look.

Reading room. Turn your spare room into a cozy reading nook by installing floor to ceiling bookshelves and some reading chairs. Create a room others will envy by building a window seat snug between two bookcases. Add ambiance with thick, ornate curtains and a plush area rug.

Music room. Have you been longing to learn piano or guitar for years? Set your spare room up to be a practice space by installing soundproof walls and adding some instruments. Hooks on walls to hang your growing guitar collection or a small bookshelf for sheet music will keep your room neat and organized.

Crafting room. If you have more craft supplies than you know what to do with you would probably benefit from a craft room. By dedicating space to your hobby you can organize your projects to be picked up at will and safely stored when you are ready to dive back in. If you have more than one craft you prefer you can even set up station dedicated to each one throughout your room. Add a cozy sitting chair for knitting or needlepoint or a large desk for scrapbooking or sewing.

Playroom. Give your kids a space of their own by creating a playroom to store all their toys and have ample room to play with them. The extra space allows you to add fun playtime extras like a rug with a racetrack printed on it or a large dollhouse. A playroom also helps kids transition from playtime to other activities throughout the day.

Movie theater. If you are a movie buff consider turning your spare room into the ultimate home movie theater experience. Large reclining chairs with cupholders add the comfort of the movie going experience. Pick up a screen projector and popcorn machine to recreate that theater feel.
Home office

Don’t let the extra space your spare room offers go to waste. Clear out any clutter that’s built up over the years and dedicate it to a new hobby, a long loved pastime or a place for your family to gather and spend time. Your options are endless so get creative and then get to work!